The big moment

Oh the nail-biting suspense! What will the president say in his illegal-immigration speech Monday night? Will he huff and puff and deliver his tried and tested, transparently insincere, self-evidently unbelievable, pro-forma statement that he intends to enforce the law … or will he recognize the trouble he is in, reach deep within himself, and come up with … a slightly less transparently insincere statement that he intends to enforce the law?

According to an administration source quoted by Deborah Orin in the New York Post and passed on by Powerline, it’s the former:

“He’ll talk about deploying troops, strengthening border control, more raids on companies that hire illegals, a virtual fence, and letting those who are here already get in line,” the source said.

In other words, the president, who for the last five years has consistently failed to protect the borders and has made his utter indifference to protecting the borders obvious to anyone with a functioning brain, will now promise new and slightly beefed-up law enforcement measures against future illegal aliens, while also telling us that even as we support these untried measures of his, for which we have not the slightest rational grounds to believe that he will effectively carry them out, we should support his amnesty for existing illegal aliens.

Anyone who buys into this is an idiot.

And what was Powerline’s response to the Orin scoop?

That could do the trick, if the tone is right and there isn’t too much talk about “letting those who are here already get in line.”
So, for Powerline (a pro-Bush site that has has been dramatically disagreeing with the president on the illegal immigration issue), if the president combines slightly beefed-up enforcement measures with an amnesty, that is fine, so long as the president doesn’t talk “too much” about amnesty. If the president advocates amnesty just once in the speech and without too much emphasis, Powerline will support his bill; but if he advocates it twice or three times, and with more emphasis, Powerline will oppose the bill. That’s what I call a Powerline in the sand.

Meanwhile, Hugh Hewitt says the whole game rests on the president’s proposing a real border fence, and implies that if the president does that, amnesty will be acceptable. This is of course wrong. But even Hewitt, pro-Bush apparatchnik that he is, blanches at the news (which Powerline has no problem with) that the president will only call for a “virtual” border fence as distinct from a real fence. He writes:

The use by the president of the term “virtual fence” is in fact a declaration against the real thing, and it would undo every bit of good he intends to accomplish via the address.

Faced with suspicion from his base that he really doesn’t intend to enforce the border, the president simply can’t proclaim a “virtual fence” as a substitute for the real thing and expect people to treat it as a serious attempt to satisfy border security advocates.

I hope someone in the White House is at this very minute asking “why not a real fence,” and refusing to accept nonsense answers about symbolism in a time of war.

Yes, a decision by the White House spin artists to change the phrase from “virtual” fence to “real” fence one day before the speech would really show a serious commitment by the White House to securing the border, wouldn’t it?

In other words, Hewitt is upset at the thought that the president is going to make a border-security proposal that is transparently insincere. For Hewitt, everything depends on the president’s making a border-security proposal that is only translucently insincere.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 14, 2006 03:13 PM | Send

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